5 Newcastle United Players Who Could Influence the Derby vs. Sunderland
The Black Cats stole the headlines—and the local bragging rights—with a 3-0 victory over the Magpies at St. James’ Park in April.
But after a disastrous start to the 2013-14 season, the Wearsiders find themselves rooted to the foot of the Premier League table with just one point from their opening eight games.
With the Geordies looking to capitalise on their rivals’ plight, all eyes will be on manager Alan Pardew’s team selection for Sunday’s game.
And ahead of the North-East showcase, we look at five Toon players who could have a major impact on proceedings.
Frenchman Yohan Cabaye goes into the derby in good form, having scored twice in his last three league appearances for Newcastle United.
And the 27-year-old playmaker is no stranger to scoring at the Stadium of Light, with the former Lille man finding the net for the Magpies in the corresponding fixture last season.
His promising performances of late suggest he will be one of the first names on Alan Pardew’s teamsheet on Sunday, and his central role in midfield could prove pivotal.
If the Toon can protect Cabaye properly and allow him to pull the strings and do some characteristic damage from distance, they have a potential match-winner on their hands.
After his man-of-the-match performance against Liverpool last weekend, Cheick Tiote looks like he’s rediscovering some form at just the right time for Newcastle United.
And if he can continue in the same vein against Sunderland this weekend, the Wearsiders could be in for a torrid afternoon in the middle of the park.
The Tiote of old was on display against Brendan Rodgers’ Reds, with the Ivorian displaying the kind of tough tackling and assertiveness that made him such a hit when he first arrived in England in 2010.
His powerful presence can be put to good use, either in a man-marking role or in the engine room, and providing he can stay out of the referee’s book, the 27-year-old could be a key figure.
While Newcastle United’s top scorer failed to find the net against Liverpool, his invention and his eye for goal could still spell danger for Sunderland this weekend.
With new Black Cats boss Gus Poyet pondering his defensive options for his first home game in charge, he’ll do so with the threat of the Frenchman at the forefront of his mind.
The on-loan striker was used out wide in the Toon's last league fixture against the Merseysiders, but could be switched to a more central role on Wearside.
And if he gets the right service, the 26-year-old could find the net on Sunday—just as he did for Queens Park Rangers in their 3-1 win over the Red and Whites last season.
Hatem Ben Arfa
Hatem Ben Arfa’s next outing for Newcastle United could prove to be a significant one—and not just because their next fixture is the Tyne-Wear derby.
The French attacker’s form has stumbled of late, and having started the campaign with some blistering displays, his performance levels appear to have dropped.
If selected at the Stadium of Light, all eyes will be on the former Marseille man and his ability to produce some if his trademark magic.
And despite his recent lull, what better game than a local derby for Ben Arfa to remind everyone of his prodigious talents?
With a makeshift defence in front of him, Newcastle United goalkeeper Tim Krul will have a huge part to play in the heat of this Sunday’s derby against Sunderland.
Mike Williamson and Paul Dummett are set to form the Magpies’ centre-back pairing in the absence of Fabricio Coloccini and Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, while question marks continue to surround the fitness of Steven Taylor.
All of which means the Dutchman will have an unfamiliar picture in front of him this weekend, and his ability to marshal and organise his back four properly will be significant.
There is pressure on the home side to attack their neighbours from the first whistle, and Krul and Co. may have to weather that storm before they can establish a foothold in the game.